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School Discipline Sparks Boy's Suicide
The recent exposure of a suicide by a 13-year-old boy has aroused heated public discussion, and the deceased boy's mother wants the teachers responsible for her son's death to be punished.

On November 9 last year, when Li Lin should have been back home for the weekend, his parents were informed by the school that their son was dead.

When they saw the boy's body in the hospital, they found his hands had turned purple and the neck bore deep traces left by ropes. At first nobody explained the reason for his sudden death. All they knew was that he was sent from Xinling Middle School, an institute for juvenile delinquents in Yangpu District, to the hospital.

After persistent efforts, the parents learned that Li had hanged himself with a scarf after being locked in a guard-house for " misbehaving."

The school asked Li's parents to signed an agreement with them, promising about 300,000 yuan (US$36,145) in compensation provided they did not talk about the incident.

The situation unraveled after a neighbor called Oriental TV Station.

The neighbor said Li was accused of blackmailing younger students from another school and therefore was locked in Room 419, the guardhouse set up by the school to punish students.

With an iron gate, the room was called a "cage" by students because no light could penetrate into the room except through a hole.

Some teachers and students said corporal punishment was fairly common at the school.

Li had suffered corporal punishment many times. In a letter left before his death, Li said he was slapped by a teacher so hard last June that his nose began to bleed. Li was punished for abusing a canteen worker who served a student behind Li in the queue first.

In the letter, he wrote: "Mom, I'm sorry I slipped up again. If there is a second life, I still want to be your son. But you shouldn't have sent me to this school."

With the story out in the public, Li's parents are now hoping that the teachers involved will be put in jail.

The school has punished the teachers by warning them and transferring them to other posts.

"We hope the media will give them another chance. We are all sad about the accident," said Jiang Hui, deputy headmaster of the school. "We will ensure that corporal punishment does not happen again."

(eastday.com June 18, 2003)

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